Nation’s Largest Metro Wi-Fi Network Goes Live

Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Mayor Jim Owen announced that the much anticipated city-wide Wi-Fi service is now operating in several areas of the city, and initial customers are online. Customers can now sign up for the Wi-Fi service, which spans downtown Rio Rancho and the Enchanted Hills neighborhood. All homes and businesses within the 103 square mile city are expected to have service coverage within the next 60 days.

Mayor Owen was joined by Azulstar Networks and Intel Corp. to herald in the new service, which already is in use by several local residents and businesses. “Rio Rancho is on the air, and we’re grateful to Azulstar and Intel for helping us deliver this valuable new service.” Owen said. “Homeowners, businesses and mobile users are very pleased with the service and the ability to connect to the Internet at broadband speeds from virtually anywhere in the city.”

The high performance mobile Wi-Fi network is the second successful metro- wide deployment for Azulstar, which completed the nation’s first Wi-Fi “hot city” with parent company Ottawa Wireless Inc. in July 2004. This first-of- its-kind mobile Wi-Fi service in Grand Haven, Mich., recently surpassed 1,000 customers.

According to Azulstar General Manager Scott Brown, “Rio Rancho is a good example of how the public and private sectors can work together to deliver valuable and affordable Internet service. The benefits of everywhere connectivity can now extend across nearly every facet of this community. The insights gained through our large-scale Wi-Fi projects will allow us to extend services quickly to many other areas in the region and across the county.”

High-speed Internet access begins at $19.95 per month for a 256k residential connection that can be accessed anywhere in the city. Per-day pricing and enterprise-class connections up to 4Mbps also are available, surpassing the top speed of competing DSL connections. Laptops with Wi-Fi adaptors can connect directly to the “Azulstar” signal for instant high- speed access.

In addition to wireless Internet access, Azulstar announced that it is in final testing of its metro-wide mobile Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) service and expects to launch this in Rio Rancho within the next 90 days. Azulstar also has begun working with state public safety and transportation agencies to test a variety of mission critical services using its highly powerful network architecture.

Azulstar secured a 25-year lease agreement with the city in November 2004. The network uses several hundred Wi-Fi (802.11a, b, g) and pre-WiMAX radios strategically located throughout the city. Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, is a technology that gives users the freedom to receive and transmit data at high speeds from anywhere within the broadcast signal range.